[Callers] Diagonal R&L and Double Prog Becket (was Circle left 3/4)

James Saxe jim.saxe at gmail.com
Thu Jun 6 00:11:04 PDT 2013

On Jun 5, 2013, at 9:06 PM, Bill Baritompa wrote:

> Hi Aahz and Linda,
>   I agree with Linda that he 'saw tooth' progression of a diagonal  
> R&L followed by an across R&L gives a double progression.

[Note: I've heard and seen R&L through on the diagonal followed
by R&L through with a new couple straight across is known as a
"bucksaw".  "Sawtooth" is something else.  See below. --js]

> I was drafting a reply to Aahz's comment and Linda, you beat me to it.
> I was going to use Becket Reel as an example too, but I checked my  
> dances to find some other examples, and found an anomaly - a number  
> using the 'saw tooth' claim to be single progression.
> I thought my data might be messed up, but a bit of googling  
> confirmed I had transcribed the
> dances correctly. So what goes?

I think that what goes is that Aahz isn't the first person who
ever managed not to notice that the bucksaw action achieves a
double progression.

> I think there is an alternate (not strictly correct interpretation)  
> which produces single
> progressions. Namely: Slide left, R&L over and back. (Of course the  
> rule of not doing the diagonal move if there is no couple available  
> does not apply in this case, and end effects occur.)
> Becket Reel can be danced with this interpretation and produces a  
> single progression.

Also you could dance the first (diagonal) R&L through in such
a way that each couple doesn't advance up or down the set quite
into the other couple's place, and then you could dance the
second R&L through (or "right and left back") with the same
couple, contriving to end up directly across from them, or very
nearly so.  I've heard or read somewhere that when "Becket Reel"
was first introduced, many dancers were tempted to do just that,
and it took callers some effort to get them to dance the second
R&L with a new(er) couple across the set.  However what Herbie
Gaudreau (author of "Becket Reel) intended was indeed the double
progression interpretation, and as far as I've seen, that's also
the current standard interpretation of the bucksaw action today.

> Fisher's Jig By Tom Hinds (http://www.prismnet.com/contradance/sequences/fishers-jig.html 
> )
> was the first I found using the saw tooth but claiming a single  
> progression -
> A1    On the left diagonal right and left through; Right and left  
> through straight across
> A2    Hey, women pass right shoulders to start
> B1   Women swing OR men swing (see below)
> B2    Partners balance & swing

"Fisher's Jig", as I've called it and as I've seen it danced is a
double progression.  You can see it done that way in this video
with Beth Molaro calling at the University of Chicago:


If you watch carefully, you will see that after after doing the
diagonal R&L through, dancers do the this second R&L through
with a different couple.  And later in the video when the camera
zooms out so that you can see the tops of the sets, you can see
that there's never a couple out at the top during the hey.

> Other dances I found are:
> Another Art and Nancy's Fancy by Yonina Gordon and Joseph Pimentel

The description of "Another Art and Nancy's Fancy" in Joseph
Pimentel's book _The Cardinal Collection_ says that it's a
double progression.

> Any Kind of Settlement by Tom Hinds

 From the choreography as given in _Dance All Night 2_ by Tom
Hinds, I interpret it as a double progression.  Tom doesn't
say that it is, but he doesn't explicitly say that it's
single progression either.

> Bob's Boogie by Barb Kirchner

I interpret the description at


as double progression, though it could be made into a single
if the B2 were changed to "..., same 4 circle L ...".

> Bride and Groom Reel by Merri Rudd  and

 From the description at


the basic version (which doesn't have a bucksaw action) is a
single progression dance.  The alternate B2 "for more advanced
dancers" looks like a double progression to me.

> Knit the Knot by Rich Goss

I interpret the description at


as double progression.

> All the above dances can be danced using the strict interpretation  
> of the saw tooth
> progression
> and become double progression in that case.

I'd say that the (currently) standard way to interpret these
dance descriptions as written is as a double progression, but
they could be modified to single progression versions.

     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

I said that "sawtooth" means something different from "bucksaw",
so I guess I should say what it means.

In most current contra choreography, when dancers are in couples
(whether with partner or with neighbor) on the sides of the set,
each couple is--at least in theory--directly across the set
from a couple on the other side.  "Sawtooth formation" is a name
coined by Larry Jennings for a situation where, by design, each
couple is directly across the set from the gap between two
different couples on the other side.  The most common case is
for dancers to be together with their partners and for each
couple to be across from the gap between the neighbors they were
just dancing with and the neighbors they're about to dance with.

For example, in Larry's dance "Give And Take I", the neighbor
swing in B1 ends with dancers facing their respective partners
across the set.  In the eponymous give-and-take figure, dancers
advance to the meet in the middle and men draw their partners
back into a swing.  The usual habit of experienced contra
dancers would to adjust the position of the swings to put
couples directly across from their current neighbors.  Larry
preferred instead that dancers swing approximately on the
spots where the men began the give-and-take action, so that
dancers are in "sawtooth" formation, with each couple being
on a slight right diagonal from the neighbors they were just
dancing with and on a slight left diagonal from the neighbors
with whom they're about to start the next round.

Larry discusses both the sawtooth formation and the revision
of bucksaw-like sequences to single progressions in section
V-12 of his book _Give-and-Take_.


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